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Led by Nigerian activists, social justice campaigners from around the world will commemorate on 10 November the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight more Ogonis at the hands of the Nigerian dictatorship of Sani Abacha.
Known around the world for his struggle with oil giant Shell, Ken Saro-Wiwa is now a figure acclaimed globally for showing how people power can win over polluting corporate giants and dirty energy.
The social and environmental crisis and injustice exposed by Ken Saro Wiwa in the oil-rich and massively polluted Niger Delta are still ongoing; the people of Ogoniland are still suffering from the effects of fifty years of land, air and water pollution by the oil industry.
“Ken Saro Wiwa’s legacy is not only a major source of inspiration to the people of Nigeria, it also serves as a beacon of hope to people across the world struggling for environmental justice,” said Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic.
“Oil companies such as Shell continue to dodge their responsibility. They must prevent further spills, clean up, and provide adequate compensation to people affected by oil pollution in Nigeria, ” said Godwin Uyi Ojo, executive director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria / Environmental Rights Action.
On November 10, Friends of the Earth Nigeria / Environmental Rights Action and social and environmental activists from around the world will gather in Port Hartcourt City, Nigeria, for a ‘Freedom March for Ken and other activists’. On November 9, Friends of the Earth Nigeria / Environmental Rights Action is organising its annual National Environmental Congress, which will end with a Ken Saro Wiwa Night Vigil.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands, along with four Nigerian farmers, brought a lawsuit against Shell in The Netherlands for oil pollution in three Nigerian villages. This is the first time that a Dutch company has been brought before a Dutch court to account for environmental damage caused abroad. A judgement is expected on Friday 18 December.
A British lawsuit resulted in 76 million euros compensation for the farmers and fisherman of the Bodo area, in Ogoniland, whose livelihoods were destroyed by two oil spills. Shell’s initial offer of compensation was 5,500 euros.
Four years after the 2011 publication of a groundbreaking report by the UN Environment Programme UNEP on oil pollution in Ogoniland, the report’ s recommendations have still not been implemented and the people of Ogoniland continue to wait for justice and a chance to escape the devastation of the oil industry.
The resilience of the Ogonis and persistent pressure by local and international civil society is however starting to bear fruit: the present government of President Buhari recently committed to the implementation of the UNEP report. With an initial pledge of 10 million USD there are high expectations that the proposed governing body to oversee the clean up will be inaugurated soon.
’’Because the UNEP report recommendations still have not been implemented, the Ogonis remain shortchanged and justice denied. Shell and the other companies, as well as the Nigerian government should immediately implement the recommendations. Shell should also compensate communities affected by continuing oil spills and agree to pay their share of the full cost of cleaning Ogoniland and other affected areas of the Niger Delta, ’’ said Godwin Uyi Ojo, executive director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria / Environmental Rights Action.
On 3 November 2015 oil giant Shell was nominated for the Pinocchio climate awards. Nominees include dirty energy companies whose activities are harming communities worldwide. Shell was nominated for its legacy of environmental and social devastation in Nigeria. Other nominees are Total, the oil and gas giant, for infiltrating the European renewables lobby, Avril for pushing biofuels, Chevron, Yara and mining company Anglo-American.
The awards winners will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on December 3, during the UN climate summit.
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